San Francisco Divorce Attorneys Warn Social Networking Accounts Increasingly Used in Court Cases

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San Francisco Family Law Firm Heath-Newton, LLP notes social networking sites are more and more frequently being used as evidence in divorce and child custody cases.

Heath-Newton, LLP is a San Francisco family law practice that focuses on families

The trend began several years ago, and with dramatic consequences

In their work as divorce litigators, the attorneys of San Francisco family law firm Heath-Newton, LLP are seeing an extreme upsurge in the use of social networking sites as evidence in divorce and child custody cases. From parents losing custody for posting too many drinking photos to a divorcing couple ordered to swap Facebook passwords, the content of social networking sites is now fair game in legal battles. Heath-Newton urges people to be selective about what they post, and carefully control their privacy settings.

“The trend began several years ago, and with dramatic consequences. In cases involving Facebook, I’ve heard of couples using photos from each other’s news feed to establish their spouse drinks too much, parties too much, and associates with unsavory individuals,” notes Erik Newton, a partner at Heath-Newton. “This evidence can result in one parent losing custody.”

The San Francisco divorce attorneys regularly advise clients to carefully guard what they post. They recommend that clients emphasize pictures of their kids; deemphasize pictures of them drinking; and adjust their privacy settings so that others cannot post photos of them without permission. “Nothing is more incriminating than a candid photo taken with a phone,” warns Newton. “Think Michael Phelps.”

In one widely reported case, a Connecticut judge ordered a divorcing couple to hand over passwords for their Facebook and online dating site accounts (Case No. FA114116955S). According to a Forbes article on the case, the husband had seen some things on their shared computer that made him suspect incriminating evidence would be found in the wife’s social networking and dating accounts. The judge ordered both parties to turn over their passwords to opposing counsel.

Gary Traystman, the husband’s lawyer, told Forbes, “I see the information people can get from computers, in lawsuits and through hacking. They scare the hell out of me.”

This latest development presents further complications, says Newton, noting that since judges are now ordering couples to swap passwords, even strictly guarded privacy settings won’t help. “These cases are becoming more complex by the day and nuanced professional advice is more important than ever. If you believe social media may play a part in your child custody case, you should contact an experienced family law attorney to help you strategize your approach,” he urges. “This is one issue that you don’t want to bungle.”

For more information about how social networking accounts may be used in divorce and child custody cases, or any other family law matter, please contact Heath-Newton, LLP by calling (415) 992-5038, visit their website, or stop by their office located at 240 Stockton Street, Suite 300 in San Francisco, California.

About Heath-Newton, LLP
Heath-Newton, LLP is a San Francisco family law practice focused on families. These San Francisco divorce attorneys pride themselves on working with clients from all backgrounds and lifestyles. Heath-Newton, LLP specializes in premarital agreements (prenups), same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships, divorce, child support, spousal support, adoption, and child custody in San Francisco and the Bay Area.


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Erik W. Newton
Heath-Newton LLP
(415) 992-5038
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